Catch up on all the latest news from Penguin Books Australia including award winning authors, illustrators, designers, publishers and other publishing industry and book related news.
Worth £40,000, the Folio Prize is for the best novel published in the UK in 2014. The shorlist is announced 9 February, the winner 23 March.
I thank the judges and the Prime Minister for this award.
I commend the Prime Minister for continuing with these prizes at a time of austerity. And I commend the Prime Minister for lending the event here tonight the authority of his office simply by being here. These are not small things, but large symbols of what a civilised society should be—one in which culture is not understood as an economic utility, or a political embarassment, but as the necessary nub of who we are.
As the ideas of our country grow vaporous, as some young Australians find more in common with murderous fantasies in far off lands than the society in which they live, we need that culture more than ever to remind us of all that we share, for our security ever lies not in our capacity to exclude some, but to include all.
It is often said that politics shouldn't be about symbols, but acts. But in the end acts are symbols, and symbols are powerful acts. We find in symbols our meaning to live, and that meaning can be wicked, or it can be a source of hope. We choose what we wish to celebrate for reasons bad or good: a beheading—or a book.
This book would not be what it is without my publishing company, Random House, nor my publisher of near twenty years, an editor of genius, Ms Nikki Christer, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.
For penurious writers—who in Australia on average earn according to the Australia Council less than $11,000 a year—a prize such as this—one of the world's richest— means one very simple thing: that they can continue to write for a few more years without fear of poverty. In any past year I would have welcomed this money to help me in the struggle to write, and in any future year—were I ever again to know such honour as this, I will, with delight, use the money for a few celebratory drinks and the rest to keep writing.
This year though I have been—as you may have heard—unexpectedly lucky. For all that, I am not a wealthy man, and though I could put this prize money into my mortgage, I intend to use it differently.
And there are two reasons for this. Let me explain them.
The origins of this novel lie in my late father's experience as a Japanese POW. The lesson that my father took from the POW camps and imparted to me was that the measure of any civilised society was its willingness to look after its weakest. In the camps the officers were levied, their money used to buy food and medicines for the sick.
Money is like shit, my father used say. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and you can grow things.
My book only exists because in that hellish place long ago the strong helped the weak. These were concrete acts that became for me, growing up, symbols of what a good society might be.
Of what our Australia is.
My other reason is this: if me standing here tonight means anything it is the power of literacy to change lives. The difference between my illiterate grandparents and me is two generations of free state education and literacy.
Words, my father told me, were the first beautiful things he ever knew.
I intend to donate this $40,000 to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation for its work with indigenous children, helping them to read. I hope it might perhaps grow a few things.
My mortgage will go on as mortgages do, but if one of those books helps a few children to advance beyond the most basic literacy to one that is liberating, then I will consider the money better spent.
And if just one of those children in turn becomes a writer, if just one brings to Australia and to the world an idea of the universe that arises out of that glorious lineage of sixty thousand years of Australian civilisation, then I will think this prize has rewarded not just me, but us all. And for that we will all owe this prize an immense debt of gratitude.
For more information regarding these awards and for the full list of winners please visit the Queensland Literary awards website. http://qldliteraryawards.org.au
Penguin True Stories has been announced as a Finalist in the Australian Interactive Media Industry (AIMIA) Awards for Best Website or Online Service – Media & Entertainment.
Winners will be announced in March 2015, you can see more details here: http://www.aimia.com.au/
Congratulations to Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest which was named winner of the inaugural Voss Literary Prize for the best novel published in Australia in 2013 and voted by the Australian University Heads of English.
For more information please visit the Voss Literary Prize website.
The 2014 Queensland Literary Awards shortlist has just been announced and we're very pleased to advise that Tigerfish by David Metzenthen has been shortlisted for the Griffith University Young Adult Book Award.
For more information about this award please visit the Queensland Literary Awards website.
Congratulations to the following Penguin Random House authors who have been successful in the 2014 Kids Own Australian Literature Awards for the following categories:
Fiction for Younger Readers
The KOALA Legend Award for 2014 went to author Libby Gleeson.
For more information on these awards visit the KOALA Awards website.
The Barbara Jefferis Award is offered for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society”.
For more information please visit the Australian Society of Authors website.
Lily Brett has become the first Australian and only the fourth woman to win the Prix Medicis Etranger for her most recent novel, Lola Bensky. The prize is given to an author of a work that has been translated into French from another language and previous winners include Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Dave Eggers and Orhan Pamuk. Congratulations, Lily.
Congratulations to Kurt Fearnley who has won his fifth New York marathon in dramatic fashion overnight.
Fearnley crossed the finish line in a time of 1 hour 30 minutes 55 seconds, less than a second ahead of runner-up Ernst van Dyk of South Africa.
A pack of six athletes approached the final kilometre of the race together before Fearnley broke clear in the last hundred metres, holding on to win by less than a metre.
The win was Fearnley’s fifth in New York but first since 2009.
“That was one of the toughest races of my life,” Fearnley said.
“This race is the highlight of the schedule every year and the feeling of winning here again is just indescribable.”
The wheelchair race was in danger of starting at all this year, with strong winds causing a safety risk for competitors. It was decided the wheelchair athletes would compete over a course shortened by three miles (approximately 4.8km).
“The wind blows you around so much and cross winds can be particularly dangerous. The first 25 kilometres or so were straight into it today which made the going tough,” Fearnley said.
“The weather is one of those things that’s completely out of your control so you just deal with what gets thrown at you on the day.”
“Today the marathon gods made us work extra hard which makes the win that little bit sweeter.”
Fearnley’s win in New York caps off a successful 2014, sitting alongside a victory in the Sydney Marathon, a runner-up finish in the Chicago Marathon and a Commonwealth Games Silver Medal. His greatest achievement this year, however, was becoming a father for the first time with son Harry born in March.
Kurt’s autobiography, Pushing the Limits: Life, Marathons and Kokoda, was published last week.